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first thanksgiving at home...

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IMG_6091 IMG_6102 I'm so grateful for family and food and slow downing.  There were the usuals: homemade place cards + apple turkeys.  Firsts were hosting Thanksgiving dinner in our home, trying my hand at whole cranberry sauce and Bobby's incredible turkey roulade he slaved over to accompany his roasted turkey breast.

I loved having nieces and nephews here along with my dad.  Stuffing ourselves and taking a log walk in the cool air.  Family helping wash dishes and divvy up leftovers.  Serving up pie and seconds of pie.  Board games out after dark.  And watching all the kids chase after Olive just to get a glimpse of her.

 

I'm feeling very blessed with my life, my health, family, and freedom this week.  

 

Hoping you had a memorable week yourself, friends.

 

the sleepy time gal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 ways we maintain order (and peace) daily

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IMG_3734 It definitely is a challenge maintaining order over a household of seven.  And when your kids are home most days, 3 meals x 7 people of dishes, our projects, shoes + coats, and stuff can easily build up everywhere.  

After putting my whole heart and summer into "tidying" our home the Marie Kondo approach ([amazon_link id="1607747308" target="_blank" ]The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing[/amazon_link]), I've been quite strict that we don't fall back into our "cluttered" ways.

I have 3 tricks that have worked in keeping that order in every room of our house.  And helps keep peace between parent and child, child and child, and the unspoken calm from living in an inspiring, orderly home.

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  1. Constantly remind all family members that everything has a home, a pre-established place to return all items after they have been used, played with, read, etc.

This simple reminder not only immediately gives the family members a visual of the location that the item needs to be returned to but doesn't require nagging.  It empowers the person to take responsibility to walk their book back over to the bookcase, put their shoes in the shoe closet, and put the yogurt back in the refrigerator.

This one concept resolves 80% of the clutter/untidiedness in our home.  My kids know very well that the more they are responsible for their items throughout the day, the less clean up there will be at the end of the day when they are responsible for one room in the house.

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2. Create charts for those household tasks that tend to a) wear you out or b) wear you out in routinely asking your kids to do them.

The functioning charts we have in our home currently are:

  • Dishwasher Days Chart (see below) where two kids are teamed up each morning to unload while the other two kids practice piano.
  • Daily Tidying Chart that simply outlines each child being responsible for the tidying (vacuuming + sweeping if necessary) of one main-level room each day.  Rooms are rotated weekly.
  • Chef of the Day + Kitchen Helper chart (in first image).  It is an extension of our chef for the day (one child that helps cook/bake that day with me) with the addition of wiping off the dining table after meals and helping with meal clean up that day too.

Charts give my kids and myself direction which is so important in building confidence and establishing lifelong routines of important work.

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3. Establish daily "rhythms" and routines for your kids and your family.

It took a little time, but now my kids know that breakfast is "ready" once their morning jobs are completed. (They each have a binder with these great responsibility pages from Modern Parents Messy Kids inside plastic page protectors so they can check them off each morning with a dry erase marker.)

Having everyone dressed, with beds made, kids' clean clothes from outside their door put away, dishwasher unloaded or piano practiced before breakfast has made life so much easier!  We can then all settle in for a morning spiritual thought and prayer before everyone splits off in different directions.

Why? Because we can get out the door faster right after breakfast and teeth brushed.  We can start into our own projects and play right after breakfast without the nagging.  (Realistically, there still is some of that. ;)) And, they know the routine and it gives them confidence knowing they are totally ready for the day.

 

Those are 3 of our tricks that really do allow for fun and creativity and learning during the day without feeling constantly overwhelmed by chaos.  My kids feel the difference when we've followed through with "maintaining" our home and I'm much more calm and helpful to my kids when there is peace and order.

Days are happier, more peaceful, and definitely smoother when we stay focused on maintaining the most important place for the kids and adults alike: the home.

 

the sleepy time gal

the bridal shower...

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{My Ole Miss little brother and his dear Meghan.}

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 {My Granny's pound cake recipe that I turned gluten free.  Made 30 of these cute loaves for the party favors.}

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 {Some southern family recipes graced the table: our Granny's cream cheese mints + chipped beef cheese ball that my sister made.  Aren't the mints beautiful?  They go fast when family is in town.}

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{A flare of paper flowers.  I tried a few versions of these pom pom flowers.  I definitely prefer this tutorial because it makes fuller flowers.  Biggest complaint: the big flowers fall easily.}

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 {Team work with the "matrimonial" game that my mother-in-law, the game queen, created.}

IMG_3314 {Flowers, flowers, and more flowers.  I used Meghan's wedding invitation for my direction in choosing colors for the flowers.} IMG_3287

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{My twins picked wild flowers from the nearby meadow before the shower to go into little vases for tiny corners of the house and, yes, the bathroom.}

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 {My older girls and their older cousins were invited to be a part of the special shower.  Their first shower!  They loved experiencing every part of it!}

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{My baker sister-in-law's mini dessert cups.  I loved throwing this shower alongside my mother and sisters.}

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 {And it wouldn't be a southern Dirle bridal shower (although held in the north) without the traditional bow bouquet hat-- made to be worn during the rehearsal dinner by the bride.  And Meghan learned right away that for every ribbon broken while opening gifts meant that many kids to grace their family. ;) ) 

 

I loved having aunts come up to join us for the day.  Sisters working hard in the kitchen to prepare special foods.  Seeing many handmade gifts opened by the couple from both sides of their families.  And having my home overflowing with many people that love Travis and Meghan.

Such a good day.  And the remnants of hanging flowers remain on my walls for a bit longer just to keep the magic in our home longer.

 

the sleepy time gal

preparations

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IMG_3135 Tomorrow's the day.

 

Yes, I've thrown many a showers and gatherings in my home but tomorrow is different.  It's the last bridal shower for anyone on my side of the family.  The last sibling is to be married and these are special times.

Thus, the month-long house overhaul (which I am now so glad to have used tomorrow as a deadline).   Scuff marks and jelly stain no longer bring character to the walls of this house but crisp white paint.  And the unmentionable dinnertime stains all on the dining room carpet (who puts carpet in dining rooms??) has been very aggressively washed out.  The feelings that I never want us to eat in that room again will fade, I'm hoping. ;)

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IMG_3141 Many things are in order for our new and improved "tidied house"--at least on this main level--that now only holds a 1/3 of the "stuff" it used to.  And many things are to be completed today and tomorrow.

Paintings to hang.

More paper flowers to make.

A special family recipe to make.

The art room.  Always the art room.

And on and on actually.  (This is always the scary/exciting part of celebration preparation: the ever encroaching deadline.)

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With my carefully prepared to-do list for this Friday I have some exciting tasks for each of the girls so they can be involved in the preparations. (My two oldest will be at the shower which is pretty exciting for them!)

The girls get to help weed, clean off fingerprints from the front and back doors (truly something I never think to do!), help wrap our party favors, make a lime water ice ring, and get cobwebs.

 

These are fun times for sure.  Nothing is better than family and family celebrations are best!

 

Have an awesome weekend friends.

the sleepy time gal

my natural medicine cabinet

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my updated medicine cabinet (1) After some tossing and rearranging I have a colorful, easy-to-navigate medicine cabinet again.  And best of all my kids know exactly where everything is to help themselves when they have an ailment.

 

And all of my most important potions and oils, winter balms, and homemade sprays are all in one place now and I'm loving it.

 

Let me give you a brief tour of my most used items in our cabinet...

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Definitely the most used items in my medicine cabinet are my therapeutic-grade essential oils.  

And seriously I mainly only use a handful most of the time: my lavender, peppermint and Thieves blend.  

 

I use lavender for:

burns

cuts

bug bites

rashes

cold sores

dry skin

 

I use peppermint for:

tummy aches

indigestion

heartburn

to aid with fevers

bug bites

headaches

 

I use Thieves blend for:

sore throats

immune system boosting

protecting immune systems (usually diffusing)

gums/mouth health

household cleaning

 

 

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Other highly used essential oils in our cabinet (especially in the winter):

 

R.C blend or frankincense rubbed on the chest for:

congestion

croup

loosening phlegm

sinus infections

 

(I keep stock of many other essential oils for making blends and specific remedies for ailments but mostly rely on these few oils above for our year round health. I also keep this great V-6 enhanced vegetable oil carrier oil in the cabinet for diluting some oils for when I have babies.)

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Although most of our medicinal needs are taken care of with therapeutic-grade essential oils, we keep a few other items in our cabinet + use when needed:

dye-free children's ibuprofen

adult pain reliever

band-aids

hydrogen peroxide

Neosporin

Ricola cough drops

 

( I keep rarely used items like our thermometer and gauge upstairs in a basket in the linen closet.)

 

Our medicine cabinet is also a great place to store our homemade blends and potions to keep them all in one place when needed:

 

And that's the simple tour of our medicine cabinet!  I love that my kids know where things are in the cabinet and that these essential oils are safe enough for them to apply many of them on their own when needed.

 

I hope this inspires you to toss out the things you don't use in your cabinet and maybe replace an over-the-counter drug with something natural and test it out.  See if it works and brings joy to you and your family.

 

Go out + be healthy!

the sleepy time gal

the weekend

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 {Enjoying a travel-themed bridal shower for my soon-to-be sister--I'll be hosting a shower for her in my home in two weeks!}

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 {Her bridal shower gift: something new--Tangerine Essential Oil for cooking with in the kitchen, something blue--a sewn seafoam kitchen towel to match her new kitchen, and something old--my dear Granny's silver bread basket that is ready to begin a new adventure in Mississippi.}

 

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 {One of the few outdoor dinners we've had this very rainy summer: grilled pork chops loaded with sauteed peppers + onions, goat cheese, and balsamic glaze + pan roasted brussel sprouts + bacon + pecans.  Bobby is the master chef around here.}

 

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{Caroline enjoying one of her hour breaks in between dance class--creating, of course.}

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{"How does it smell, Rowan?"  Apparently he's inspecting the chocolate zucchini bread "donuts".  Doesn't everything taste better in a donut shape??}

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 {Stay tuned this week for this awesome new lunch recipe.  All of the fresh flavors of the Mediterranean--many of which can be found in your garden--all wrapped up in a power lunch wrap.}

Hope you have an incredible start to a brand new week!

the sleepy time gal

the books in my life

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"Imagine what it would be like to have a bookshelf filled only with books that you really love. Isn’t that image spellbinding? For someone who loves books, what greater happiness could there be?” 

Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Sitting among all of the hundreds of books gathered from every corner of my house, I recently began the sorting of books, one by one.  My task: hold each book and ask myself if it sparks joy or not.  If not, then it went in the donate pile.

It took hours one morning and by the end my emotions were spent from the sentimental experience of the work but I did it.  In the end, I sat and stared at the small pile of books we chose to keep: a handful of books for me and Bobby and the few piles of children's books.

That was it.  The books that truly make us happy right now.

The rest, the donate pile of 3/4 of our books, consumed our living room...

Roughly 300 books towered the "donate pile"  (picture below).  Some were very easy to get rid of that don't really touch our lives.  Others, though, required some deep searching of my heart--Had this book already brought me joy and I no longer need it?  And what about this children's hardback picture book that I've spent some of my most precious mothering hours reading to every single one of my children--even if we've moved on from it's story what happens to all of those sentimental memories if I get rid of it??

And what about all of those books I asked for and was given as gifts or that I bought with my own money when I was super into the subject--some I've read and others I haven't even cracked open??

I picked up a few cookbooks and took a decision-making break to flip through them.  One particular baking book made me stop in my tracks.  I could see cake batter stains on one heavily used recipe page.  This book had taught me the very beginning lessons of baking. It gave me the confidence in the kitchen when I was smother to just my toddler Caroline.  I baked a thousand times from this book.  So many emotions and memories came back from years of its use.  I sat there and cried.

How in the world could I let this book go?If I'm honest with myself, it does not spark joy-- anymore.

I use it from time to time. Well, not too much lately.   But there's the memory of what it's given me and what it's always represented in my life.

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"No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important.” 

Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Surprisingly, I shut the book, held it firmly in my hands, and thanked the book aloud for all of the memories of happy kids at breakfast from its' recipes, many lessons it taught me in the kitchen, and the sheer comfort of its pages for so many years of my mothering.  I then walked over and put it in the donate pile, knowing very deeply that what had once brought tremendous joy had served its purpose then and now I could let go of it.   

For books, timing is everything. The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it. To avoid missing that moment, I recommend that you keep your collection small.” Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

It is the most incredible feeling to only keep the books in our life that spark joy now.   We have donated two bookcases and our large living room bookcase now has many empty cubbies.  (Cubbies that now will hold library books.)  I can't even begin to tell you how freeing it is.

As I tidy, I am increasingly surrounded only by what I need and love right now.   If I had a book cluttering my house all those years and never read it then my lesson learned from that particular book was it wasn't important enough.  The lesson I've continued to learn is that life without all the extra "stuff" means we love what we do choose to keep.  Like our current favorite children's books--enjoying what we've kept and loving the space/freedom from the books we only half loved/read.

What about you?  

What would happen if your home only held the books that spark joy in you and your family?  

How would your daily tidying change?

 Your peace within yourself + in your home?

Take one step towards simplified living and try it out.  And watch the impact create further changes in your life.

 

Go out + live boldly!

 

growing into a man

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My father is the one that taught me to never give up.  I still have the calligraphed "Never Give Up!" cardstock he made for me during a difficult time in high school.  I've kept it on my dresser for over 15 years.

My father spent the weekend with us, tried out his funny voices on my kids as he read them stories, and sparked such excitement in our home over the past few days.

 

And my Bobby was celebrated with simple things yesterday: construction paper cards, homemade cookies, pictures, and well-practiced songs sung.  He provides so much stability, consistency, and peace in our family; he truly anchors our family.

 

I'm grateful for the men in my life, even down to the youngest, bushy-haired, future-daddy that I'm currently raising.  I want him to be strong yet gentle, confident and peaceful, and to someday be an anchor to his own little bushy-haired family.

 

How I look forward to watching it all unfold.  Life is a blessing.

 

 

the sleepy time gal

first step, almost completed

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IMG_2873 After a little rearranging, my Annabelle +Ainsleigh are side by side again like they had been for months in my tummy.  The closer their beds they say, the better.  And so their bedroom has been the first bedroom I'm implementing my "konmarie" techniques to.  (More about my experience/implementing the [amazon_link id="1607747308" target="_blank" ]The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up[/amazon_link] by Marie Kondo on my Instagram here.)

 

I am almost finished with the very first step of tidying a home based on Marie's technique--"Tidy once using my technique and you never have to tidy again" method.  Clothing is the first step.  And so clothing from every floor of the house has been dumped in heaps and gone through, piece by piece.  We're talking my maternity clothes, baby clothes, seasonal kids clothes, etc.

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And as I hold up each item of clothing and ask myself if it "sparks joy" I continue to surprise myself by filling more and more donation bags and hanging up less and less in everyone's closets.

 

And so there is less to keep, more to enjoy/love/appreciate of what we choose to keep.  And ultimately, less to fumble over, put away, and "deal with".

 

What I love most from this whole family transitory experience is my girls interest and desire to own their rooms, personal items, and clothing in a more meaningful way.

Ainsleigh has been asking throughout the week to keep showing her how to properly fold her pants, shirts, underwear, etc.  She wants to keep her drawers functional.  And she feels the excitement that comes from order + essentialism.

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Despite the fact that company is coming this weekend, there's another ballet performance, and Father's Day on the radar, I'm feeling okay that piles of "stuff" have been lingering around many corners--some waiting to be bagged up and other piles still waiting to be decided up.

 

The progress is slow but boy, is it liberating.  Once clothing is "tidied" by the end of this week (my goal is by Saturday night) then books are next.

 

Have a great weekend and enjoy celebrating those daddies! ;)

 

the sleepy time gal